California Off-Road Vehicle Association
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Managing Director's Report April 2024

April 30, 2024 12:41 PM | CORVA Administrator (Administrator)

CORVA: Keeping Public Land Open FOR The People, and Not FROM The People

Reference Documents:

Bureau of Land Management

One of the most significant issues with the BLM occurred this past week with the release of the 'Conservation Rule". The Press Release from the Department of the Interior can be found here: The substantive comments CORVA filed last year in response to the draft Conservation Rule are attached and were filed June 2023. The purpose of the rule is to add 'conservation' as a use of public land, in addition to other uses defined by Congress in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA, as amended, 2016): By way of understanding the consequences of the recently adopted Conservation Rule, FLPMA was approved and passed by Congress. The Conservation Rule was NOT passed by COngress, nor did Congress have any say over the components of the rule. As described in the forward of FLPMA written in 2016 by former BLM Director Neil Kornze, " Our responsibilities are wide ranging. In addition to supporting the nation’s need for energy, minerals, timber, and grazing lands, we offer world-class recreational opportunities to millions of Americans who are passionate about hunting, fishing, hiking, paddling, and skiing." As opposed to this description of the BLM priorities, the elevation of restoration and conservation to the equivalency as mineral extraction and grazing defines a 'non-use'. It will also allow nonprofits and manage easements and essentially take over the management of areas they deem to be eligible for restoration. The guidelines for what is deemed conservation or restoration worthy are not defined. 

This rule was created and specifically targeted oil and gas leases, grazing leases and other forms of mineral extraction on public land. This has been a critical talking point for environmental organizations for many years. They have accused large oil companies and agricultural interests of profiting off up-to-know inexpensive leases for use of public land. The rule was released in about a year since the draft was open for public comment, which is unheard of for rules that make large-scale changes of this type to the management of public land.  It is clear that the adoption of this rule violates FLPMA, because it bypassed Congress. There is no doubt that these large interests in the oil/gas/grazing communities will challenge the rule in court and although there will be significant legal defenses of the new rule by environmental organizations, I believe that if a lawsuit is filed in certain courts in opposition to the rule, that it will receive a fair hearing and the rule would be . There is sufficient precedence in court rulings that Congress makes the laws that define the uses of federal agencies. We should see that happen fairly quickly. Although the rule doesn't directly target OHV recreation, it could very well harm OHV recreation. Since CORVA has standing because of the submission of substantive comments, the organization could join coalitions that are very likely to form to oppose the rule. These coalitions would include entities from the previously-mentioned industries. In order to file a lawsuit, the plaintiff has to prove harm either to its business or members (in the case of an organization). OHV recreation cannot yet show harm, but oil/gas/grazing interests can show harm from the passage and adoption of the conservation rule and therefore have sufficient reason to litigate. Joining a coalition with the interests would benefit CORVA and OHV recreation. There is also a strong possibility if the administration changes in the next election cycle that this rule would be quickly discarded. 

Congress has already taken interest in this bill,, and last year Congressman Curtis (R-Utah) introduced the WEST Act that would prohibit the BLM from enacting the Conservation Rule: 

In assessing the immediate consequences for OHV recreation in California, most of the BLM areas in California that host permitted OHV events are in areas, such as Stoddard Wells, Johnson Valley OHV Area, Jawbone Canyon, and Fort Sage, that are already designated OHV areas. In the DRECP, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern were already designated as part of the plan, which was signed in 2016. This rule could affect the ongoing WEMO lawsuit.

Forest Service

The proposed Rubicon Reroute of the section of the trail passing through the Tahoe National Forest has received a lot of attention and questions. As CORVA members of the Board of Directors heard last week during the Annual Meeting from the reroute coordinator, Joe Chavez, the reroute has been extensively analyzed and deemed necessary because of the deterioration of two areas on the existing trail. Many people ask if this will change the ability of Placer County from asserting RS 2477 rights on the portion of the trail that passes through the county, but this is not the case. What the county needs to do to assert their rights for travel on the Rubicon Trail, is file for an easement with the Tahoe National Forest, as El Dorado County did in about 2012. Contrary to popular belief, El Dorado County  did not assert their RS 2477 rights to the portion of the Rubicon Trail, but rather petitioned the Forest Service for an easement and manages that portion of the trail through a Special Use Road Permit. CORVA was part of the easement process and the appeal process that led to the historic agreement by all appellants, including CBD and other anti-access groups, that led to the Rubicon Trail being open 24/7, with few exceptions. 

The Sustainable Outdoor Recreation Collaborative held a meeting on April 17th, and the Grants Manager Jenn Grady of the OHV Trust Fund for the OHMVR Division gave a presentation about the grants, the history of the grants and stressed how no other recreation community grants money solely derived from it's own activity for use by federal, county and city entities to management off-road recreation on public land. She stressed how the OHMVR Division defines off-road travel, including travel by street-legal vehicles on dirt or native surface roads. 

Depending on trail conditions, most forests have lifted their winter closures, or will be lifting them shortly. Some trails, like the Dusy-Ershim Trail or Barrett Lake Trail have further restrictions, and open when trail conditions are optimum for travel.

The Forest Service Pacific Southwest has released a 'Broader Scale Monitoring Strategy: The rule complies with criteria in the 2012 Forest Planning Rule: It enables interested parties to review the results of the monitoring in their favorite forests. 

State Parks

Prairie City Road and Trail Management Plan (RTMP) has released the response to comments: CORVA submitted substantive comments on the plan, which are attached. CORVA's comments were recognized and received appropriate responses. CORVA was largely supportive of the RTMP which provides for expansion opportunities for all forms of motorized recreation. 

The OHMVR Commission met for a tour of Carnegie SVRA, symbolically in support of the Carnegie General Plan, and an upcoming vote to approve in the general plan which will take place in October. Originally, the vote was planned to take place next month, but the vote has been delayed because the General Plan was not yet ready for public release. With the change in dates for the release of the Carnegie General Plan, the upcoming OHMVR Commission meeting and tour on May 15/16 will take place at Oceano Dunes SVRA. Many people have requested the OHMVR Commission meet and tour at Oceano, and I plan to attend.

The red sticker season comes to an end at many of the SVRA's on April 30th. This is the last year that will have a red sticker season. Per the CARB changes in 2019, all non-emission compliant motorcycles model year 2021 and older will be treated as greensticker vehicles, and there will no longer be a red-season season. These bikes may receive either red or green stickers upcon renewal of their registration with DMV, until DMV uses up all their stock of redstickers. There have been some non-emission  compliant dirt bikes model year 2022 and newer who have received greensticker registrations since the CARB changes. It is unknown how access to the SVRA's will be handled with these bikes - some of the employees may check to see if a 'C' or '3' is in the 8th position of the VIN and deny entry in compliance with the CARB ruling, other employees may not check. 


This is the most current report from the coalition lobbyist, Mark Smith and his staff in regards to the bills ORVLC (Off-Road Vehicle Legislative Coalition) is following: THere are no significant changes to SB 708 (Jones), the motorcycle competition sticker bill that is being closely watched by the OHV community. 

Please contact me with any questions!

Managing Director
California Off-Road Vehicle Association

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